Jun 19, 2024, 10:39 AM

At least 1 reported dead in New Mexico as 2 wildfires erupt

At least 1 reported dead in New Mexico as 2 wildfires erupt

TEHRAN, Jun. 19 (MNA) – At least one person has been reported dead as a result of the fast-growing wildfires still burning in New Mexico, officials said Tuesday.

The state Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management told CNN they have received reports of one fatality, but had no additional information.

The wildfires have been tearing across Lincoln County and the Mescalero Apache Reservation, converging on the village of Ruidoso “like a pair of tongs” and prompting thousands of residents to evacuate, officials say. The neighboring community of Ruidoso Downs also came under an evacuation order Tuesday.

At least two individuals were injured during the wildfires, New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham said during a Tuesday evening news conference. They were treated for non-life threatening injuries.

Grisham said at least 500 structures have been damaged by the wildfires. The governor had earlier declared a state of emergency in the county and reservation.

A wall of smoke filled the sky over the village of Ruidoso on Monday evening as a line of cars snaked out of the community. An estimated 5,000 residents were ordered to evacuate the village area due to the approaching South Fork Fire, New Mexico Forestry spokesperson George Ducker told CNN.

The South Fork Fire started Monday morning on Mescalero Apache tribal land and had spread to at least 3,000 acres by nightfall, Ducker said. It exploded in size overnight, authorities said. The fire burned 13,921 acres with zero percent containment, the Village of Ruidoso said early Tuesday, and while the fire had slowed, officials were concerned about increased winds.

A second blaze, the Salt Fire, is also burning on tribal land south of Ruidoso and had scorched 4,800 acres by Tuesday morning.

Both fires are acting like “a pair of tongs, and Ruidoso is in the middle,” Ducker said.

Eric Moro and his family were among those forced to flee their home in Ruidoso on Monday. The evacuation was sudden and his family had little time to prepare. He described the sky as orange and said they could barely breathe due to the smoke.

“There’s no going back right now. They are trying to get everybody out and we are not expecting any rain until Friday,” Moro told CNN. “We’re pretty high risk of losing our home.” Moro’s family had just moved into their home in March, and he said he’s unsure of what they will do now.

As of Tuesday evening, Ruidoso Downs – a city of about 2,600 people directly east of the village of Ruidoso – also was under an evacuation order due to the Salt Fire, according to a post on the city’s Facebook page.


News ID 216687


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